Sports.ru hockey writer Igor Eronko tweeted out some pretty exciting information about the possibility of Winnipeg Jets property Alex Burmistrov making a return to the NHL.
So if this is true, it appears Burmistrov is returning to the NHL and possibly, the Winnipeg Jets. The Jets control the 23 year old's NHL rights until he turns 27, so barring a trade Burmistrov would have to report to the Jets.
I spoke to Igor Eronko about what exactly this could mean and a little bit about Burmistrov's two year tenure in the KHL.
JS: Rumors of a return have been flying for a while, when did you hear confirmation?
IE: It was confirmed 3 days ago by Evgeni Medvedev, his teammate in Ak Bars, who had just signed contract with Philadelphia Flyers. Burmistrov himself doesn’t give any comments on possible return for quite a while.
JS: What can you tell Jets fans about Burmistrov's play over the last two years?
IE: He started really well, used his speed, made plays, did undress defenders, scored some pretty goals, but the team he played for is a very structured defense first team. So he has become less and less creative over time doing what coach wanted him to do although quite reliable 200 feet C, who’s good in faceoffs and can put the physical pressure at times. After 1st season he made team Russia and won world champion title playing 4th line C and his line was pretty good doing their job, also he was useful in PK.
Before the 2nd season Zinetula Bilyaletdinov returned to Ak Bars, and the team became even more structured and defense oriented. A lot of players (almost a half) had ‘nightmare’ seasons in terms of production, young star like Malykhin couldn’t even make the roster. So the numbers Burmistrov had shouldn’t be taken too serious. In a team like SKA he could have scored about point-per-game.
JS: To your knowledge, Has the Burmistrov camp contacted the Jets brass about working out a new contract?
IE: Sure, they were talking and I assume they’re still in talks, but I don’t know any details.
JS: Is Burmistrov's departure form the KHL driven by financial uncertainty in the KHL?
IE: Only partially. Thing is Ak Bars doesn’t want to sell his rights to any other KHL team and Burmistrov doesn’t want to play in a team like this under the coach they have. So by and large he has only one option.
JS: The Winnipeg Jets are a much different team since Burmistrov departed. Would Burmistrov be willing to take a smaller role with the club? What if the team thought he was better suited down in the minors, do you think Burmistrov would be accepting of that?
IE: Thing is he can’t demand anything. And it would be reasonable to take that role and then to try to get himself a bigger one. That’s how everyone does. But I don’t think he finds himself OK with playing in the minors. Then it’s better to be traded. And maybe a trade would be the best solution (possible locker-room issues as a factor too) although Burmistrov could benefit from work with Paul Maurice.
JS: There have been suggestions that the Jets are looking to trade Burmistrov's rights, did you hear anything on his end about a fractured relationship?
IE: No, the only fractured relationship heard about was with Claude Noel.
The real question is how bad Burmistrov wants to return to the NHL. As Igor pointed out, he does not have much leverage so he would have to be accepting of whatever he role he is put in. If his improvements in the KHL pay any dividends, maybe Burmistrov is an impact player for the Jets next year? The whole Burmistrov situation is kind of a mystery for now, so until the Jets or Burmistrov's camp comments on this, we will have to wait and see.
Thank you to Igor Eronko for his time, give that man a follow on Twitter.